January 2019 Newsletter – Continuous Quality Improvement: Steps to Continuous Quality Improvement

When embarking on continuous quality improvement there are different models or steps you can follow.  Each program, teaching team, and individual will need to develop the steps and process that works best for them.  Here are a few general steps that may be part of your CQI process:

  • Develop an understanding of the standards– In order to improve quality, you must understand what quality looks like.
  • Reflect on current practices – Take honest stock in current practices.  No one is perfect.  No program does it ALL right every day.  Compare your understanding of the standards to your current practices in order to identify opportunities for growth.
  • Complete self-assessment tools –Some quality improvement initiatives include formal self-study materials or assessment tools.  Take advantage of these tools to, again, honestly reflect on your program practices.
  • Brainstorm “perfect world” scenarios– What could your program look like if there were no barriers?  Create perfect world scenarios, then work to identify barriers.  Eliminate the ones you can, make necessary adjustments for the barriers you cannot address at the moment and move a little closer to a “perfect world.”
  • Identify areas of improvement – What fires are members of the team constantly trying to put out?  Depending on the dynamics of the program, this can happen as a whole group, as a teaching team,or one-on-one between a teacher and supervisor.  Areas of opportunity can also come from self-assessment tools, children,families, or other members of the community.  
  • Prioritize – There are several criteria to use to prioritize the areas of opportunity you identify.  It’s a good idea to focus on areas related to health and safety first.  You could look for things that can be accomplished within your available budget.  You may also choose to pick a few easier items to address first to get the ball rolling.
  • Set goals for addressing areas of improvement – Once areas are identified and prioritized, create your goals.  Exactly what will this new and improved process or practice look like when you are finished?  By what date do you expect to implement the change?  Remember, SMART goals are also realistic and achievable!
  • Create action plans – Develop a plan of action for each area of improvement, including a timeline and who on the team will be responsible for making change.
  • Identify necessary resources – Determine if there are additional materials, professional development, or community resources needed to make your quality improvements. Create a plan to access those resources.
  • Track progress – It’s important to create accountability by tracking progress on a regular basis.  This will allow you to make adjustments when necessary.  You will also be able to celebrate progress throughout the process as a way of building motivation and a sense of achievement.

As a program implements these steps, it is building a cycle that becomes part of its culture of quality improvement.

Here is another model to consider that is used by a wide variety of businesses and industries:

For the main article Continuous Quality Improvement, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits to Continuous Quality Improvement, CLICK HERE

For the article Tools to Support Continuous Quality Improvement, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Creating a Culture of Continuous Quality Improvement, CLICK HERE